Inspiration was her main driver: one of her first encounters with the SRC´s work was through the narrative of the Anthropocene. She felt it was a robust narrative because it is grounded in science -as shown by the planetary boundaries research- and it doesn’t add up to the pessimistic narrative of sustainability issues, but rather, highlights the power we have as a specie to shape Earth´s destiny. This was an inspiring framework for her to start thinking about her own academic and professional interests in urban design research. That´s how Melissa became interested in the SERSD. This programme means for her an opportunity to gain a better insight on the centre´s work, to become part of a community of researchers that she looks up to, to engage in the centre´s ongoing transdisciplinary research and rethink the role of urban design in the Anthropocene.
Melissa has a Bachelor degree in Communication Arts and Sciences, with focus in audiovisual communications. Early-on Melissa became interested in finding ways to reconcile youth aspirations with sustainable development, so she committed with building communities that would develop the human potential of youth by proving them with transformational education and opportunities to engage to sustainable jobs, sustainable livelihoods, and governance processes.
During that time, she has had different roles: researcher, communication coordinator and project manager. In 2012, she co-founded the first student-led sustainability-related organization in her college: Munay. In 2014, she stated working in Libelula, a climate change management consultancy company, where she co-managed Generation +1, a project that engaged Latin-American youth leaders with a zero emission and climate-resilient society through leadership, entrepreneurship and advocacy programmes. Melissa has also been a youth representative in different platforms. For example, the World Student Environmental Summit 2013, Germany; the VII Summit of the Americas 2014, Panama; and Youth Peruvian Delegation in COP 21, France.
During her involvement in climate change governance, Melissa became interested in non-state and subnational engagement in climate action. In 2015, as part of a consultancy work for the Ministry of Environment of Peru, she designed a toolbox and conducted workshops to engage local governments in climate action. More recently, Melissa has worked in institutional change, with a focus in transitions to sustainable universities. In 2017, she led a research process to design dimensions and indicators to assess the incorporation of sustainability, with a focus in climate action, in Peruvian universities; and a participatory scenario building process with the involved universities.
Melissa is also a self-taught in topics of her interest: biomimicry design, environmental psychology, positive psychology and urbanism and enjoys creativity activities like science-fiction writing, blogging and photography.
Finally, Melissa´s early interest in human wellbeing and sustainability transitions has recombined with her interest in design and has led her to pursuit this master to start focusing in research regarding urban design as a leverage point to reconnect human wellbeing with the biosphere, and regarding storytelling as a tool to engage with desirable urban futures.
Melissa believes in a transformation through design. For her, urban design has the potential to shape our mindsets and our behavior. She is convinced that design should emerge from a new thinking paradigm, one that acknowledges humans as nature, and embraces complexity and non-linear dynamics.